Have you ever wondered why wine glasses are shaped in such a strange way? Why the long stem, and delicate glass that makes them so easy to break and tip over? More recently, we’ve seen the introduction of stemless wine glasses, which have essentially changed the rules of how to hold a wine glass.

Wherever you are, whatever event you are attending, and whoever you’re with, it’s best to know the right way for how to hold a wine glass, so you’re always set to impress. Learn the following eight ways on how to hold a wine glass:

1. Know the glass

There are three distinct parts to a traditional wineglass: the bowl, the stem, and the base or foot. The bowl is the part that holds the wine; the stem is the long part in the middle; and the foot is the flat part at the bottom that the whole thing stands on.

2. Hold it by the stem

Yes, the answer to how to hold a traditional wineglass is quite simply: hold it by the stem. Why? Two reasons. One, your body heat will actually change the temperature of the wine over time, which can change the flavour of the wine. Two, your fingers may be greasy from food, lotion, or for many other reasons. This will leave dirty fingerprints all over the glass, which looks gross.

3. The proper technique

Using only your thumb, index finger and middle finger, pinch the glass at the very bottom of the stem, right by the base. Your middle finger may even rest on the base of the glass, alongside the ring finger and pinky which will naturally rest on the foot as well.

4. Alternative techniques

You may also choose to hold the stem in another way. Some people wrap their index finger around the stem, using the thumb to stabilize it. Another method is to pinch the bottom of the base with only the thumb and index finger, and stabilize the glass by resting the other three fingers underneath the foot.

5. Stemless wine glasses

What do you do when someone hands you a stemless wine glass? To avoid visible fingerprints, as mentioned above, it is best practice to hold the glass at the bottom, under the widest part of the bowl. Hold it using only the thumb, index, and middle finger, leaving the ring finger and pinky to hang underneath.

In addition, try to avoid holding the glass for long periods of time. If possible, station yourself by a table, counter, or other surface where you can place the glass when you’re not drinking.

6. The big no

There are a few ways of holding the wineglass that you’ll want to completely avoid. Don’t grasp the entire stem of the glass like you’re trying to choke it out. However you ultimately decide to hold it, you’ll want to make it look dainty – you will not succeed by grasping the stem tightly in a fist. For the reasons mentioned above, never hold it by the bowl, and specifically, don’t hold it with two hands.

7. Things it’s okay to do

It’s okay to swirl your wine glass a little before sipping. It’s not considered rude. In fact, this is the proper etiquette before tasting wine in general, as it helps to release the flavours. You may also use the palm of your free hand as a surface, if you have nowhere to set your glass.

8. Hold it by the bowl… sometimes

In situations where the wine is being served properly, you should never hold it by the bowl. However, if you have overchilled the wine, this is the only situation where holding the bowl is acceptable.

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